Delhi seeks reversal of Rakesh Asthana's appointment as police commissioner
The Delhi Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution demanding the reversal of Rakesh Asthana's appointment as Delhi Police Commissioner. The resolution expressed apprehension that Asthana will be used by the central government to "create a reign of terror" against the Opposition. It directed the Delhi government to urge the Home Ministry to withdraw Asthana's appointment and start the process afresh. Here are more details.
The resolution—tabled by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party's Sanjeev Jha—questioned the Centre over its decision to appoint Asthana as Delhi Police Commissioner, given his controversial track record. "It is beyond any reasonable understanding as to why a controversial officer who was removed by this central government from the post of Special Director CBI in October 2018...is being imposed on Delhi Police," it read.
In the Assembly, AAP MLAs criticized Asthana's appointment, arguing that the move violates the Supreme Court ruling in the Prakash Singh case. The judgment said only those officers with at least six months of service left before retirement should be considered for the post of Director General of Police (police head in most states). Asthana was appointed on Tuesday, three days before his retirement.
AAP MLA Bhupinder Singh said, "If the Centre does not consider the post of DGP as equivalent to Commissioner of Delhi Police, then it is a demotion for Asthana, as he has already served as DG, BSF." The demotion would also violate the SC order.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Pawan Khera also raised questions about Asthana's appointment on Wednesday. "What does Asthana have against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah?" Khera asked, "What do they fear?" "His appointment coming after his name was revealed among the list of those snooped upon using NSO's Pegasus begs us to ask the question: Is there some quid pro quo?"
In fact, the Delhi Commissioner's post belongs to the AMGUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) cadre of the Indian Police Service. However, Asthana is a 1984-batch officer of the Gujarat cadre. To become the Delhi Police Commissioner, Asthana got an "inter cadre deputation" to AMGUT. AAP's Jha termed it an "insult to AMGUT" for overlooking its officers with decades of experience.
However, BJP's Leader of Opposition, Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, opposed the resolution, citing Asthana's achievements and credibility as a police officer. Bidhuri said that Asthana had received Police Medal during the Congress regime. He said Asthana had investigated the 2002 Godhra massacre along with cases of corruption against senior government officials. He also probed the drugs case tied to actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death.
In 2018, Asthana was embroiled in a major feud with the then CBI chief Alok Verma over bribery allegations. However, last March, a Special CBI Court accepted the charge sheet giving a clean chit to him.